“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

I missed the first Friday of PPBF last week due to excitedly posting about our youngest writers first book out.   Want to read more see here .

I love books that have a very deep and warm message, something that would suit everyone.  This is one of those very special ones.


MATCHBOX DAIRYAuthor:   Paul Fleischman

Illustrated by:  Bagram Ibatoulline

Published by:  Candlewick Press

Ages:  6 – 9 years

Theme:  family history, bonding of generations,  childhood memories, a journey, a “dairy”

First lines:  “Pick whatever you like the most.  Then I’ll tell you its story.”  

“There is so many things here.”  

“You’ll know when you see it.  And then I’ll know something about you. The great-granddaughter I’ve only heard about.”

Synopsis:  From the front flap….   The little girl visiting her great-grandfather chooses a cigar box that turns out to hold a brood of matchboxes.  Inside each is a memento, an olive pit, a bottle cap, a ticket, lead type.  Together they recount her great-grandfather’s journey from Italy and first years in America, a diary-in-objects kept by the boy who yearned to record his life but couldn’t read or write.

Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman depicts the drama of immigration and the longing for literacy while crafting an ode to preservation and the fascination of boxes.  Gorgeously detailed illustrations by renowned artist Bagram Ibatoulline take readers from the Italian countryside to the bustle of America – and forward to the present day, where a new diary keeper gets her start.

Why I like this:  This beautifully written and illustrated book captivated me from beginning to end.  Not only by the wonderful heart-warming story,  but the warm amazing illustrations between the pages.  There is so much to love about this book.  The connection between a young girl meeting her great-grandfather for the first time, her inquisitiveness, and the tenderness as she learns of a time long past.  Special moments in his life kept as tiny objects in matchboxes are gently unveiled as we turn the page and the exquisite illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline depict history cleverly in greys while the present is in warm coloured hues. As you can see the first few lines tell us so much about these two characters, we just have to keep turning the page.

Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images. Among his award winning picture books are Sidewalk Circus. The Matchbox diary was an idea from his love of making matchbox theaters and when he saw artist Gary Hamel’s matchbox diary of a recent trip to Italy he asked if he could use the idea.  It took a further fifteen years before the story was written.

Bagram Ibatoulline is an acclaimed illustrator of such books as Thumbelina, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Tinderbox, The Nightingale, among many others.  He lives in Pennsylvania.

As I read and reread this story I found myself being  swept back in time to the many hours and weeks I used to spend with my Grandmother and Step-grandfather and the lovely stories they would tell me and the games we used to play. A must read, I found this ageless and timeless.

Resources/Findings:    Here is a lovely note from Paul and some great ideas for discussion with kids in class…     http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763646016.btg.1.pdf

Here is Paul’s official website with a lovely video clip of making matchbox theatres…..    http://www.paulfleischman.net/    what fun for kids.

For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.




About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Children's literature, Picture book, Picture Book Review, What moves me and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. Darlene says:

    This is a book I would love and I’m sure many young people would love it as wel. Thanks for the great review!l

  2. Beautiful story! Unfortunately, we tend to brush the elderly aside instead of gaining wisdom from their rambling accounts of their struggles and successes. Thanks for sharing this one. . .

  3. I just picked this one up from the library. The opening is lovely – now I need take a break and read it!

  4. Catherine Johnson says:

    This sounds adorable and a great book for a grandparent to read to their children. I look forward to reading Joyful Noise too.

    • Yes it’s a lovely book for grandparents to share with their grandchildren. Sure to encourage more engaging conversations with one another. Thanks, Catherine.

  5. You’ve really intrigued me with this choice. I can’t wait to get to the library on Monday!

  6. Joanna says:

    Intriguing! So many super picture books for older kids today. Thank you!

  7. I love the cover, and the whole “diary a la object” idea 🙂

  8. The cover is very tromp l’oeil — I thought it was an actual box. I can imagine the illustrations are just fantastic.

  9. Oh, I really like this selection. I love the idea of a child learning about his grandfather’s life through treasures saved in a matchbox. What an inspirational story for kids to hear. May give kids the opportunity to ask their grandparents about what it was like to grow up and learn some family history.

  10. What a magical book! We have a cigar box full of things we find in books.And the box belonged to the Mom Person’s grandfather and once held some treasured papers from him. A treasure trove! This looks like an excellent book to share with kids. I’ll be looking for this one for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow! How neat to actually have a treasure trove. I am sure you will love this Rhythm!

  12. Oh, this sounds like such a lovely book, Diane! I’d love to read it! I love the idea of a diary kept with items since he couldn’t write. And just imagine the stories they evoked! Thanks so much for sharing this one!

Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.